A pilot research turtle farm aimed at supplying commercial markets in Aust. and overseas has?
A pilot research turtle farm aimed at supplying commercial markets in Aust. and overseas has been established on remote Darnley Island, north of Australia. The farm lies ICC miles north of Thursday Island. At present there is only one other turtle farm in the world -- in the West Indies.
Five turtle farmer -- three girls and two men -- are working the farm. They were trained in Canberra and on the Great Barrier Reef for six on the before starting at Darnley Island.
The turtles were brought to Darnley early in March when they were one day old. They were cared for in water-filled dinghies prior to release in pens. Now they are four months old and after twelve months will be released into Darnley Island waters.
The first "crop" is expected in three to five years. Darnley Island is an ideal site -- a warm climate and cut of the cyclone belt.
The turtles are kept in simple pens made of mangrove wood extending out to sea. This year it's hoped that each farmer will rear 200 turtles from the day-old hatchlings. Results to date have been excellent. At three months the baby turtles weighed up to 123 ounces -- 14 times their birth weight. After three years an average turtle from the farm should net $23 (Australian), killed and gutted. A large adult female turtle could bring up to $50.
Turtle farmers are landing their catch at Thursday Island, the trading centre for Darnley Island.